BLOOD BROTHERS

Official studio version


We played king of the mountain out on the end
The world come charging up the hill, and we were women and men
Now there's so much that time, time and memory fade away
We got our own roads to ride and chances we got to take
We stood side by side each one fighting for the other
And we said until we died we'd always be blood brothers

Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away
Making a fool's joke out of the promises we make
And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray
We lose ourselves in work to do, work to do and bills to pay
And it's a ride, ride, ride, and there ain't much cover
With no one running by your side, my blood brother

On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks
Always moving ahead and never looking back
Now I don't know how I feel, I don't know how I feel tonight
If I've fallen 'neath the wheel, if I've lost or I gained sight
I don't even know why, I don't know why I made this call
Or if any of this matters anymore after all

But the stars are burning bright like some mystery uncovered
I'll keep moving through the dark with you in my heart, my blood brother


Info

BLOOD BROTHERS is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and released on the Greatest Hits (1995 edition) compilation album. The above lyrics are for the official studio version of BLOOD BROTHERS as released on Greatest Hits.

Composition and Recording

Bruce Springsteen wrote BLOOD BROTHERS in early 1995 in celebration of the brief reunion of the E Street Band – he had disbanded the band in 1989. In the liner notes of his 1995 Greatest Hits album, Springsteen simply wrote, "It was good to see the guys."

In a September 1995 with Neil Strauss for Guitar World, Springsteen told Neil Strauss: "'Blood Brothers' was sort of trying to understand the meaning of friendship as you grow older. I guess I wrote it the night before I went in the studio with the band, and I was trying to sort out what I was doing and what those relationships meant to me now and what they mean to you as you move through your life. Basically, I guess I always felt that the friendships, the loyalties and the relationships, those are the bonds that keep you from slipping into the abyss of self-destructiveness. And without those things, that abyss feels a lot closer, on your heels. I think your own nihilism feels a lot closer without someone to grab you by the arm and pull you out of it and say, 'Hey, come on, you're having a bad day.' So with the song I was trying to sort out the place that those deep friendships played in my life, friendships that I had when I was young. We all grew up together, and people got married and divorced and had babies and went through their addictions and out the other side, and we drove each other crazy."

Bruce Springsteen handwritten lyrics for BLOOD BROTHERS (from the Blood Brothers documentary)
Bruce Springsteen handwritten lyrics for BLOOD BROTHERS (from the Blood Brothers documentary)

The song was recorded in January 1995 at The Hit Factory in New York City, NY, with the E Street Band when Springsteen assembled the entire band, plus alumnae Steven Van Zandt, for about ten days of studio sessions. According to Brucebase, session player Frank Pagano played percussion instruments on this song. There are many different arrangements, and it's clear that Springsteen was uncertain about which to use, but two ended up being officially released.

Four different complete studio takes of BLOOD BROTHERS have circulated among collectors, all of which were recorded during the January 1995 sessions in New York:

  • The official studio version is the one that was released on the Greatest Hits album.
  • A rock version was included on the Blood Brothers EP. See the alternate studio version for more details.
  • An unofficial full-band take remains unreleased. See the unofficial studio version 1 for more details.
  • An unofficial solo acoustic take remains unreleased. See the unofficial studio version 2 for more details.

Three studio takes appear in the Blood Brothers documentary, each preceded with a solo acoustic demo in which Springsteen teaches the song and the arrangement to the band:

  • A solo acoustic demo is partially shown in chapter 1 (on the DVD release) of the Blood Brothers documentary. See solo acoustic demo #1 for more details.
  • A full-band take is partially shown in chapter 3 (on the DVD release) of the Blood Brothers documentary. This take is labeled "TAKE ONE" on the documentary. See full-band take #1 for more details.
  • A solo acoustic demo is partially shown in chapter 6 (on the DVD release) of the Blood Brothers documentary. See solo acoustic demo #2 for more details.
  • A full-band take is partially shown in chapter 6 (on the DVD release) of the Blood Brothers documentary. This take is labeled "TAKE TWO" on the documentary. See full-band take #2 for more details.
  • A solo acoustic demo is partially shown in chapter 12 (on the DVD release) of the Blood Brothers documentary. See solo acoustic demo #3 for more details.
  • A full-band take is shown in chapter 12 (on the DVD release) of the Blood Brothers documentary. This take is labeled "TAKE THREE, ONE LAST TRY" on the documentary and is actually the same take that was released on Greatest Hits.

Seven takes of BLOOD BROTHERS are in very limited circulation. All information about these eight versions is taken from Brucebase.

  • "Take #3" is the earliest complete take and it's an alternative arrangement of the rock version with a melody very close to that of the official studio version. It also has some lyrical variations, including "...out on west end" rather than "...out on the end".
  • "Take #9" features a quiet, downbeat arrangement.
  • "Take #18" is performed by Bruce Springsteen accompanied by Max Weinberg on drums and Roy Bittan on keyboards. It features some lyrical variations and can perhaps be described as "Secret Garden-ish".
  • "Take #20" is an alternative take of the rock version with some lyrical variation and an upfront accordion accompaniment.
  • "Take #31" is very similar to the official studio version, slightly slower with small lyrical variations.
  • The 6th take is a fascinating one and the arrangement can only be described as heavily Dylan-inspired with a organ riff that's pure "Like A Rolling Stone". It features plenty of harmonica and some lyrics that are unique to this arrangement. At the conclusion Springsteen says, "Well that's the idea anyway!".
  • The seventh take is a cut work-in-progress of the official studio version's arrangement in a different key (D). Springsteen provides instructions and directions to the band in this take.

The Blood Brothers Documentary

Producer/director/photographer Ernie Fritz was given complete access to the 1995 studio sessions with the E Street Band, and part of the 23-hour footage was released on the 80-minute documentary Blood Brothers in November 1996.

The video was nominated in 1997 for a "Best Long Form Music Video" Grammy Award. The nomination was shared among video director/producer Ernie Fritz, video producer Lee Rolantz, and video producer Jack Gulick. It lost to The Beatles Anthology.

Blood Brothers premiered in the United States on 03 Mar 1996 on the Disney Channel. It was released on Laserdisc on 01 Oct 1996, VHS on 19 Nov 1996 (the packaging for which included the bonus Blood Brothers EP), and DVD on 16 Jan 2001.

Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band -- Blood Brothers (Laserdisc)
Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band -- Blood Brothers (Laserdisc)
Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band -- Blood Brothers (VHS)
Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band -- Blood Brothers (VHS)
Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band -- Blood Brothers (DVD)
Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band -- Blood Brothers (DVD)

The documentary shows three band takes of BLOOD BROTHERS being recorded, each preceded with a solo acoustic demo in which Springsteen teaches the song and the arrangement to the band. The last of the three band takes is none other than the version that was released on the Greatest Hits album.

Bruce Springsteen recording BLOOD BROTHERS (official studio version) in studio (from the Blood Brothers documentary)
Bruce Springsteen recording BLOOD BROTHERS (official studio version) in studio (from the Blood Brothers documentary)

Greatest Hits 1995 Edition

Greatest Hits (1995 edition) is a collection of some of Bruce Springsteen's hit singles and popular album tracks through the years, in addition to four previously unreleased songs, three of which were recorded with the E Street Band in 1995 – Springsteen's first release with his backing band since the late eighties. Some of the songs on Greatest Hits are shorter versions of the original album releases.

In 1994 Bruce Springsteen recorded an album that was never released. His manager Jon Landau wasn't a fan of the project and recommended shelving it and focusing more on a "career overview". This lead to the Greatest Hits sessions with the E Street Band in 1995. Springsteen called the band in early January to record some new songs for the album and they assembled for the recording sessions on 09 Jan 1995 at The Hit Factory in New York City, NY. The sessions, which lasted about ten days, were the band's first studio reunion in 11 years (since the Born In The U.S.A. sessions) and their first ever with Nils Lofgren.

Bruce Springsteen -- Greatest Hits
Bruce Springsteen -- Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits was released on 27 Feb 1995 on Columbia Records. It was commercially successful, debuting at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 where it stayed on the chart for 32 weeks. It also peaked at #1 in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and many European countries. By 2008 the album had sold more than four million copies in the United States.

In 2013, Sony Music reissued the album in Venezuela as part of its Star Collection series, which was made exclusively for the Venezuelan market via Sony Music Venezuela in 2013. The album is titled after the series and features totally different artwork. Just like on Greatest Hits, the songs are shorter versions of the original album releases.

Bruce Springsteen -- Star Collection
Bruce Springsteen -- Star Collection

CD - Sony Music (001) - Venezuela, 2013

Other Official Releases

As far as it's known, the official studio version of BLOOD BROTHERS was included on one various artists album:

Various artists -- Dale - Soundtrack From The Feature Film
Various artists -- Dale - Soundtrack From The Feature Film

CD - Nascar Images / CMT Films (VH00113) - USA, 2007

This release was sold exclusively through Wal-Mart retailers.

Other versions of BLOOD BROTHERS were also officially released.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Blood Brothers
The alternate studio version of BLOOD BROTHERS was released on the Blood Brothers EP in 1996.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Live In New York City
A snippet of the live 01 Jul 2000 version of BLOOD BROTHERS was included on the Live In New York City home video in 2001.
live.brucespringsteen.net
Audio recordings for all the Summer '17 Tour shows were officially released on live.brucespringsteen.net. These include one versions of BLOOD BROTHERS.

  1. 22 Jan 2017 at Perth Arena, Perth, Australia

Live History: On Tour

In preparation for The Reunion Tour, BLOOD BROTHERS was performed during one of the tour's two public warm-up rehearsal shows that took place in March 1999 in Asbury Park.

  1. 10 Mar 1999 at Convention Hall, Asbury Park, NJ (private rehearsal)

BLOOD BROTHERS was performed once during what is known as The Reunion Tour (132 dates, April 1999 to July 2000), closing the tour finale on 01 Jul 2000 in New York City, NY. The song featured a rewritten last verse. A snippet of the 01 Jul 2000 performance of BLOOD BROTHERS was released in 2001 on the Live In New York City home video. See the live 01 Jul 2000 version for more details. Note that the song was reportedly sound-checked several times earlier in the tour, prior to the 01 May 1999 show in Manchester, England, prior to the 16 May 1999 show in Birmingham, England, prior to the 20 Jun 1999 show in Arnhem, The Netherlands, and prior to the 28 Feb 2000 show in University Park, PA.

BLOOD BROTHERS was performed once during The Rising Tour (120 dates, August 2002 to October 2003), closing the tour finale on 04 Oct 2003 in New York City, NY. The song featured the rewritten last verse. See the live 04 Oct 2003 version for more details.

BLOOD BROTHERS was performed once during the Magic Tour (100 dates, October 2007 to August 2008), opening the 23 Apr 2008 show in Orlando, FL. The song was played in a rock arrangement. See the live 23 Apr 2008 version for more details.

BLOOD BROTEHRS was performed once during the Summer '17 Tour (14 dates, January and February 2017), on 22 Jan 2017 in Perth, Australia. The song was played in a solo acoustic arrangement. Audio recordings for all Summer '17 Tour shows are officially available for purchase. See the live 22 Jan 2017 version for more details.

Live History: Off Tour

BLOOD BROTHERS was performed off-tour on 05 Apr 1995 at Sony Music Studios in New York City, NY, during a gig with the E Street Band to promote the release of the Greatest Hits album. Two takes of the song were performed. See the live 05 Apr 1995 (Sony Music Studios) version for more details.

Appearance in Movies

Bruce Springsteen's official studio version of BLOOD BROTHERS appears in two movies.

Promotional poster for the film "Grand Theft Parsons"
It was used in the 2003 film Grand Theft Parsons, directed by David Caffrey and starring Johnny Knoxville. The song was not included in the film's soundtrack album.

BLOOD BROTHERS perfectly sums up the relationship between Gram Parsons and his road manager Phil Kaufman (Johnny Knoxville). Springsteen is known for guarding his back catalogue zealously and rarely clears music for films other than those he's directly involved in, but he reportedly allowed the producers of Grand Theft Parsons to use the track for a fraction of his usual fee.
Promotional poster for the film "Dale"
It was used in the 2007 film Dale, directed by Rory Karpf and Mike Viney. This is a documentary film about the life and career of NASCAR race car driver Dale Earnhardt. The song was also included in the film's soundtrack album.

Covers

A few artists have recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's BLOOD BROTHERS.

Michael Angelo -- Michael Angelo Live / The Crossings Of Mackinaw
Michael Angelo -- Michael Angelo Live / The Crossings Of Mackinaw

CD - Renaissance Records (MCA4444) - USA, 1999

BLOOD BROTHERS is a live version and is titled "Brothers" on this release.
Garnet Rogers -- Get A Witness
Garnet Rogers -- Get A Witness

CD - Snowgoose (SGS 1133CD) - USA, 2007

BLOOD BROTHERS is a live version.
German Boss & Friends -- Acoustic-Demo-2007
German Boss & Friends -- Acoustic-Demo-2007

CD EP - no label (no catalog number) - Germany, 2007

This is a promo EP containing only covers of Bruce Springsteen songs. BLOOD BROTHERS is titled "Bloodbrothers" on this release.
Jeff Sherman -- American Stranger
Jeff Sherman -- American Stranger

CD - Goose Creek Records (unknown catalog number) - USA, 2008
Jackie Barnett -- "Growin Up" With Bruce
Jackie Barnett -- "Growin Up" With Bruce

CD - no label (no catalog number) - UK, 2009

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.
Martyn Joseph -- Tires Rushing By In The Rain
Martyn Joseph -- Tires Rushing By In The Rain

CD - Pipe Records (PRCD023) - UK, 2013

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

References

Most of the studio recording information on this page is taken from Brucebase. Info and scans for some of the above cover releases are taken from the Nebraska website.

Request

If you have audio or any additional information about the eight studio takes of BLOOD BROTHERS that are in very limited circulation, or if you have any corrections, additions, or comments to this page, please contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.

Available Versions

List of available versions of BLOOD BROTHERS on this website:

BLOOD BROTHERS [Official studio version]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Alternate studio version]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Unofficial studio version 1]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Unofficial studio version 2]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Solo acoustic demo #1]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Full-band take #1]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Solo acoustic demo #2]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Full-band take #2]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Solo acoustic demo #3]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Live 05 Apr 1995 (Sony Music Studios) version]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Live 01 Jul 2000 version]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Live 04 Oct 2003 version]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Live 23 Apr 2008 version]
BLOOD BROTHERS [Live 22 Jan 2017 version]

Page last updated: 10 Feb 2017